There is nothing quite like reading through a drinks menu and choosing a mixture that suits just right. However, the new cocktail bar trend that is sweeping the globe takes the cocktail bar experience into a different sphere – in which the bar staff become ‘the alchemist’ and the menu is as elaborate and eccentric as can be.
Shooters appear in conical flasks, brightly colored and emitting wisps of smoke like a magic potion, while cocktails such as the Manchester bar’s “Mad Hatter’s Tea Party” (vodka, elderflower liqueur and fruit served warm in steaming tea cups) are impressive in terms of taste as well as aesthetics.
The menus themselves are fascinating, written like potion recipes with a plethora of tempting choices and innovative ingredients such as rose buds and popping candy. However, the old favorites are of course also present, with the alchemists taking pride in their new twists on the classic mojito, margarita and daiquiri, pulling in new flavors and ideas to create a delicious variation on traditional recipes.
Yet, it is not just the cocktails on offer that have created the furore around this new bar trend but also the buildings themselves. Beautifully designed and constructed to resemble old alchemist laboratories, complete with floor to ceiling bottle shelves and sliding ladders, you truly enter into ‘The Alchemist Experience’ from the minute you walk in the door. Watching the bar is mesmerizing as staff scuttle up and down the ladders in search of a required spirit, toast marshmallows and blow-torch meringues, all to create the perfect concoction.
This concept provides a welcome tone of theatre to the cocktail bar scene, while maintaining the luxury and class of the traditional cocktail lounge. Thus, the popularity of these bars has continued to soar over recent years with The Alchemist Leeds opening later this year in the UK. along with similar concept bars of the same name opening in San Francisco later this month. Throughout this the long-standing Manchester and Melbourne bars are as popular as ever drawing in crowds on a nightly basis and expanding in their respective cities.
by Lucy Maguire
Gloobbi Representative based in Paris